Wednesday, June 13 –
First things first, I have to right a wrong from last week’s post. I didn’t give proper (or any) credit to my Wonderful Boyfriend for all of the help he gave me cooking that dinner. Thank you, retroactively, for your wonderful goodness and constant willingness to lend a helping hand. You make this project something that I not only look forward to, but look forward to sharing with you.
This week’s guests also contributed to this adventure, and here are my thanks: Hot Momma brought wine and the turkey breasts. Bestie Extraordinaire brought lots of wine. And Amine Chef and BeatBox brought a wonderful green salad and bread to snack on while the chicken was baking. Thank you!
Now, on to this week’s post. I have to say that I approached this dinner with a huge amount of excitement in my heart. I had a real family recipe given to me and I didn’t want to mess it up. But mess it up I did (sort of). First of all, I didn’t give enough consideration to how long this recipe takes to make and to bake. So my boss said I could skip the part of putting the pan into the double boiler and it would cut down on baking time. Second of all, I tried to accommodate guests with this recipe when I really, really shouldn’t have modified it. And third, I made guesses about the way the structure of the recipe worked and I got them wrong. I did this recipe a disservice and I promise to make it again soon, doing it the right way. If any of my guests for this dinner want to come for the re-do, you are more than welcome.
How it all happened…
This is really a two-day recipe, so let me start at the beginning. I was planning on cooking for Bestie Extraordinaire, Amine Chef, and BeatBox (who, if you remember back several weeks, cannot eat any sort of dairy). So I figured that I could substitute soy milk for the regular cow milk (I love soy milk on cereal, on desserts, and for my coffee drinks, so how could this possibly go wrong?). Wonderful Boyfriend and I cut, toasted, and soaked the bread just like the recipe describes. I was running out of time so I let the bread sit on baking sheets in the fridge to finish soaking up the soy milk. Then we get to Wednesday, and we add Hot Momma, Baby Bear, and Mr. Hero to the dinner. (Eek! Not enough meat on that chicken to feed everyone! So we bought turkey breasts and threw them into the same pan. Makes sense, right?)
I saute the onion, celery, parsley, and garlic as per the instructions. I mix it all into the bowl with the ripped up bread chunks of one of the loaves of bread. It looks like A LOT of stuffing. So my brain told me, “Just don’t use the other loaf. It’ll totally be enough.” However, it didn’t tell me, “Remember to halve the spices because you’re only using half the bread.” So into the bowl went all of the spices and eggs. Mixed up and stuffed into the bird, bacon placed on top, turkey placed on the side, bacon placed on the top of that. Into the oven at 400* for 30 minutes, then I basted with the wine and olive oil. Then stuff the rest of the stuffing around the bird and then an hour in the oven at 350*, basting twice more. My digital thermometer read 155* , so with resting that gets it up to 165* as the food safety sites tell us to get chicken up to. Onto the plates it went, along with a salad from Amine Chef and BeatBox, we were ready to eat.
The chicken was moist, flavorful, and delicious. I don’t remember ever having a baked chicken dish that turned out so incredible. I could have eaten half the bird, I swear! The stuffing, well, wasn’t my best-in-show, that’s for sure. It tasted all wrong because of the soy milk and while most of the people at the table liked it I was crying on the inside. *sniff* It still breaks my heart to think about how amazing that dinner could have been if I hadn’t tried to cut so many corners. If there is anyone out there making these recipes, please, please, please do this recipe how it is written rather than how I tried to do it. As many successes as I have had with this, this is my most heartbreaking failure.
On that note, learn when it’s ok to change recipes and when it is not. It will save you from stories like this.
(recipe borrowed from my boss!)
Croatian Stuffed Chicken
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 slice bacon
- 1 large onion
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- Fresh parsley (1/4 – 1/3 of a bunch)
- 2 stalks celery
- Olive oil
- White wine (chardonnay)
- 2 loaves Albertson’s French Bread (white)
- 2 eggs
- 2% milk (3/4 gal. will be used)
(if having more than 4-6 people over, do 2 chickens and 3 loaves Albertson’s French bread, 3 eggs, 1.5 onions, 3 stalks celery, little more milk – don’t use Safeway bread – turns out mushy)
- Wash chicken, salt inside and out; place in refrigerator overnight.
- Cut bread loaves and dry out in oven (approx: 1/2 hr. on 300 & 1 hr. or longer on 200 or less)
- Finely chop together: onion, garlic, celery, parsley.
- In non-stick skillet:
Place 1/2 c – 1 c. olive oil & heat to med. high; add onion/parsley mixture; careful it doesn’t burn – you want the excess moisture to cook up – approximately 30-40 min. Towards the end, you will need to turn down the heat to med – low. Cool mixture.
- When bread is dried out and cool, place bread in a large broiler and slowly add half the milk; as bread absorbs milk, turn bread pieces over and add the remaining milk. Every 20 min. or so turn bread pieces over making certain that all pieces absorb milk and let stand for approx. 1.5 hrs. until you can easily mix and crumble the pieces (should not be any hard pieces of bread). If you think there is too much milk, you can squeeze some out (should not be dripping milk). Add the sauteed onion/parsley mixture to the bread and mix well; add 1- 2 tablespoon salt, 3-4 tablespoon pepper, 3 tablespoon paprika; continue mixing well; add 2 eggs; mix well. Place in refrigerator til ready to start cooking chicken.
(Chicken will take 4 hrs. to cook on 350, Bake)
- Place chicken – add slice of bacon on top of chicken — in a large black broiler plan (place as much stuffing as you can fit inside chicken at this time) & let it bake in the oven for 30 min. on 400 degrees.
- Remove chicken temporarily from the oven while you place a larger, shallower pan with HOT WATER in oven.
- Take the remaining stuffing mix and place it around the chicken in the large black broiler plan. Cover and seal with aluminum foil & place into pan with hot water. TURN OVEN DOWN TO 350 AND KEEP IT THERE FOR THE REMAINING 3.5 HRS.
- After 1 hr., start basting chicken with olive oil and white wine (place in a bowl approx. 3/4 cup olive oil and 3-4 cups white wine. After the first hour, baste every hour or so. Be sure to place olive oil/wine mixture over chicken AND stuffing.
When chicken is done, remove chicken; remove stuffing from inside chicken & add to rest of stuffing. There will be a lot of juice from the chicken and wine – be sure to mix well this juice into the stuffing. Enjoy!!!